CSP Research News: Spring 2022


It’s been an exciting few months for the research team at CSP. From being highlighted in the latest IPCC report on progress in climate change mitigation to receiving coverage in news outlets like Le Temps and the Financial Times, we’ve been encouraged to see that our work is continuing to have impact. We’re happy to share highlights from our research with you in this edition of our newsletter.

And there is much more to come: the CSP’s next report for the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment will be published on the topic of ESG integration later this month and we will be hosting the foremost conference for sustainable finance research this September.


Dr. Julian Kölbel, Head of Research at CSP & Prof. Dr. Falko Paetzold, Initiator and Managing Director of CSP
Contact Julian and Falko.

Join us for the 5th Annual GRASFI Conference

The 5th Annual GRASFI Conference, hosted by CSP and the Center of Competence for Sustainable Finance at the University of Zurich in Zurich and online, September 5th-7th, 2022.

The Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment (GRASFI) is the foremost network for universities leading research on sustainable finance and investment. This fall, CSP and the Center of Competence for Sustainable Finance at the University of Zurich will cohost the network’s 5th Annual Conference in Zurich and online, September 5th-7th, 2022.

The hybrid event will bring together multi-disciplinary researchers at the leading edge of sustainable finance research for three days of exchange and development on some of the discipline’s most pressing themes such as ESG metrics, regulation, and the impact of sustainable investing on the real economy. Save the dates and find the details here.

Research Team Highlights

Sustainability Linked Bonds: Early evidence

In February, CSP’s Head of Research Julian Kölbel co-authored a working paper offering the first empirical evaluation of sustainability-linked bonds (SLBs). From the perspective of impact investing, SLBs are an important and promising mechanism. However, it’s often unclear who pays for the sustainability improvement in the case of SLBs. Read our summary for an overview and find news coverage of the report in this Responsible Investor article.

Proposals for the EU’s green finance regulation

In an op-ed published in March, CSP researcher Florian Heeb and collaborator Harald Walkate argue that European Securities and Markets Authority’s current Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) should ask for consumers’ sustainability objectives instead of their preferences if they want to deliver meaningful impact.

In their most recent article published in May, they bring our attention to the much-discussed EU Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) and argue that, while the SFDR’s intentions are laudable, it needs one small but fundamental fix if it is to deliver the change we need. According to Florian and Harald, the devil is in the details.

Research Partnership: Anne Kellers at Wharton

As a part of her research on investor activism and sustainable investing in family offices, CSP’s Anne Kellers is continuing to work with colleagues at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania as a Visiting Researcher. A leader in business and finance education, Wharton is a fantastic research partner and we’re sure that the exchange will lead to valuable insights into what works when it comes to enabling and amplifying investor impact. We look forward to the results of this collaboration.

Private investors and the sustainable development goals

In March, CSP’s Falko Paetzold co-authored a paper that provides deep insights into how high-net-worth individuals practice impact investing and their underlying motivations. Their findings from data analysis and interviews with members of Toniic, an international community of impact investors, showed that investors tend to pick those SDGs that offer high financial returns and present clear business opportunities.

Research-based resources for practitioners: Unlocking the potential of Blended Finance

While many development actors are interested in blended finance, a lack of concrete tools has kept them from realizing its potential. Together with the Initiative for Blended Finance, the Bertha Center, Roots of Impact, and the UBS Optimus Foundation, CSP published a practical guide introducing the many blended finance mechanisms available and when to use them. CSP’s Taeun Kwon joined the Just for a Change podcast to explain the approach and share insights from the paper.

Practitioners interested in deepening their understanding of blended finance and honing their expertise will converge for the Impact Investment & Blended Finance for Development Agencies and Foundations program in Zurich this September. (The training takes place right before the GRASFI conference if you’re interested in joining.)

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Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth

CSP is a research center at UZH. We conduct research and train wealth owners & investment professionals in order to move capital towards sustainable growth.